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Higher Minds – Preface

We started writing this novel in 2016, but the very beginning, the preface, was a last minute addition when we started querying a couple of months ago. The first chapter hits pretty hard, but it’s not too heavy a novel, so we needed something to put the right tone to Mark and Jen’s story.

woman wearing black sneakers

Photo by Florian Doppler on

This isn’t working out. She needed to go home. Buy a plane ticket with Mom’s credit card. For necessities and emergencies only, she’d said, but this was both. Alone at an orientation party, two thousand miles from home. Why? These kids looked like they could be from her senior class, but they said things like:

“Holy buckets, it’s a drive. Four hours from up north. Near Bemidji.”


“If you don’t put snows on by October you’re gonna be asking for a push every morning ’til March.”


“Gophers’ll tell Penn State ‘welcome to the Big Ten, pricks. Yoink! Thanks for making us the Victory Bell.'”

Might as well be another language in another country. Minnesota.

Her neck cracked when her head turned at someone saying “Jenny.” But no one knew her. She hadn’t even met her roommate yet. Why am I even here? Three of her friends got accepted to San Jose State, too. She could be there with them. Not this year, though. Too late. But she could get some prerequisites out of the way at Berkeley City College. She would just drop her Solo cup of lukewarm soda–pop, they say here–in the garbage can on her way out the door and never look back on this stupid mistake.

“Okay, Gerald’s Game isn’t his best and I don’t know what the fuck he’s trying to do with the Dark Tower, but I guarantee that in a hundred years The Stand will be ranked with Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Pride and Prejudice.”

She stopped so suddenly her Converse high tops pinched her toes. She had read all those books. She understood what he said, even if she didn’t agree.

“My English teacher said there’s only fifty eight original stories.” A voice a little bit louder than the din, from the tallest guy in the room. Longish black hair. She drifted closer.

“I maintain the The Stand is the best of those stories. You know: the classic fall. No matter how civilized we think we are, humans are always teetering on the brink. All it takes is a little push…”

Then he said something that drove away the other guy, but summoned her. Words like magic. She walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.

Categories: blog Higher Minds M.J. Ortmeier

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Michael and Julie write separately, but when they write together they are...M.J. Ortmeier!

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